Category Archives: Imperialism

The Tragic Record of American Regime Change, by Maj. Danny Sjursen

By any objective assessment, America’s adventures in regime change have not worked out as planned. From Danny Sjursen at truthdig.com via antiwar.com:

We used to call him “Mookie.” God, we hated him. Back in 2006-07, while patrolling the streets of east Baghdad, Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia was our sworn enemy. These impoverished, slum-dwelling Shiite youths hit us with sniper fire and deadly improvised explosive devices day after day. They killed and maimed American troops daily, including my boys – Alex Fuller and Mike Balsley – who died Jan. 25, 2007. We’d patch up our wounded, call in a medevac helicopter, then roll back into those city streets the very next day. As we patrolled, Sadr’s ubiquitous face would taunt us, plastered as it was on billboards, posters and flags throughout the neighborhood.

Now, in a truth stranger than fiction, Sadr’s political party has won the recent Iraqi elections. The former warlord and killer of Americans may now play kingmaker in Iraq. Of course, mine is only one – highly biased – side of the story. From Sadr’s perspective, we were occupiers, a foreign military force with no legitimacy in his country. Perhaps he had a point. Still, Sadr’s victory demonstrates just how far off the rails America’s project in Iraq has gone, and it epitomizes the unintended consequences of offensive war and regime change.

When the United States uses its impressive military machine to topple a tyrant – in this case, Saddam Hussein – it’s impossible to predict the course of the chaos that follows. Fracture a society, it seems, and the most nefarious (and well-armed) actors often rise to the top: militiamen, criminal elements, Islamists and sociopaths of various stripes. Sadr is just one example.

Still, Washington never seems to learn. Since October 2001, our military has been ordered to topple at least three sovereign governments – those of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – and is theoretically seeking to overthrow another regime in Syria. Republican and Democratic presidents alike have ordered these ill-advised operations, demonstrating the striking bipartisanship of American militarism. Let us, then, take a tour of the tragic outcomes unfolding today in each of these victims of U.S.-imposed regime change.

To continue reading: The Tragic Record of American Regime Change

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Why the Empire Never Sleeps: The Indispensable Nation Folly, Part 2, by David Stockman

David Stockman presents the real history of World War I, and how it set the stage for the rest of the 20th Century and the first 18 years of the 21st. From Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com, via antiwar.com:

Read Part 1

The rise of the murderous Nazi and Stalinist totalitarian regimes during the 1930s and the resulting conflagration of World War II is held to be, correctly, the defining event of the 20th century. But that truism only begs the real question.

To wit, were these nightmarish scourges always latent just below the surface of global civilization – waiting to erupt whenever good people and nations fell asleep at the switch, as per the standard critique of the British pacifism and US isolationism that flourished during the late 1930s?

Or were they the equivalent of the 1,000-year flood – a development so unlikely, aberrant and unrepeatable as to merely define a horrid but one-off chapter of history, not the ordinary and probable unfolding of affairs among the nations?

We contend that the answer depends upon whether your start with April 2, 1917, when America discarded its historic republican policy of nonintervention and joined the bloody fray on the old continent’s Western Front, or December 7, 1941, when Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor allegedly awoke America from its isolationist slumber and called it to global leadership of the so-called American Century.

Needless to say, the Deep State’s ideology of the Indispensable Nation and its projects of Empire are rooted in the Pearl Harbor narrative. That is, the claim that global affairs go to hell in a hand basket when virtuous nations let down their guard or acquiesce to even modest acts of regional aggression.

The now faded verities of republican nonintervention, by contrast, properly finger Woodrow Wilson’s perfidious declaration of War on Germany as the event that changed the ordinary course of history, and paved the way for the 1,000-year aberration of Hitler and Stalin which ultimately ensued.

Not surprisingly, the official historical narratives of the Empire glorify America’s rising to duty in World War II and after, but merely describe the events of 1917-1919 as some sort of preliminary coming of age.

As a consequence, the rich, history-defining essence of what happened during those eventful years has been lost in the fog of battles, the miserable casualty statistics of war, the tales of prolonged diplomatic wrangling at Versailles and the blame-game for the failed Senate ratification of Wilson’s League of Nations thereafter.

To continue reading: Why the Empire Never Sleeps: The Indispensable Nation Folly, Part 2

Why The Empire Never Sleeps: The Indispensable Nation Folly, by David Stockman

The graveyard of history is filled with the graves of “indispensable” nations. From David Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com, via theburningplatform.com:

Like the case of Rome before it, the Empire is bankrupting America. The true fiscal cost is upwards of $1.o trillion per year (counting $200 billionfor veterans and debt service for wars), but there is no way to pay for it.

That’s because the 78-million strong Baby Boom is in the driver’s seat of American politics. It plainly will not permit the $3 trillion per year retirement and health care entitlement-driven Welfare State to be curtailed.

The Trumpite/GOP has already sealed that deal by refusing to reform Social Security and Medicare and by proving utterly incapable of laying a glove politically on Obamacare/Medicaid. At the same time, boomers keep voting for the GOP’s anti-tax allergy, thereby refusing to tax themselves to close Washington’s yawning deficits.

More importantly, the generation which marched on the Pentagon in 1968 against the insanity and  barbarism of LBJ’s Vietnam War have long since abandoned the cause of peace. So doing, boomers have acquiesced in the final ascendancy of the Warfare State, which grew like topsy once the US became the world’s sole superpower after the Soviet Union slithered off the pages of history in 1991.

Yet there is a reason why the end of the 77-year world war which incepted with the “guns of August” in 1914 did not enable the world to resume the status quo ante of relative peace and prosperous global capitalism.

To wit, the hoary ideology of American exceptionalism and the Indispensable Nation was also, ironically, liberated from the shackles of cold war realism when the iron curtain came tumbling down.

Consequently, it burst into a quest for unadulterated global hegemony. In short order (under Bush the Elder and the Clintons) Washington morphed into the Imperial City, and became a beehive not only of militarism, but of an endless complex of think-tanks, NGO’s, advisories and consultancies, “law firms”, lobbies and racketeers.

The unspeakable prosperity of Washington flows from that Imperial beehive. And it is the Indispensable Nation meme that provides the political adhesive that binds the Imperial City to the work of Empire and to provisioning the massive fiscal appetites of the Warfare State.

To continue reading: Why The Empire Never Sleeps: The Indispensable Nation Folly

Fifteen Thoughts About Israel, by Caitlin Johnstone

Israel is the Middle Eastern branch of the Western empire. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

1. I hate writing about Israel. The accusations of anti-semitism which necessarily go along with literally any criticism of that nation are gross enough, but even worse are the assholes who take my criticisms of the Israeli government as an invitation to actually be anti-semitic. They really do hate Jews, they really do think that every problem in the world is because of Jews and they post Jewish caricature memes and calls for genocide in the comments section on social media and it’s incredibly gross and I hate it. It feels exactly as intrusive, jarring and violating as receiving an unsolicited dick pic. But the Israeli government keeps committing war provocations and massacring Palestinians, so it’s something I’ve got to talk about.

2. Anti-semitism (or whatever word you prefer to use for the pernicious mind virus which makes people think it’s okay to promote hatred against Jewish people) is a very real thing that does exist, and I denounce it to the furthest possible extent. Anti-semitism is also a label that is used to bully the world into accepting war crimes, apartheid, oppression, and mass murder. Both of those things are true.

3. There were dozens of Palestinians killed and well above a thousand injured in the Gaza protests over the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem yesterday. I haven’t found any report of so much as a single Israeli injury. The only way to spin this as the fault of the Palestinians is to dehumanize them, to attribute behaviors and motives to them that we all know are contrary to human nature. To paint them as subhuman orc-like creatures who are so crazy and evil that they will keep throwing themselves at a hail of bullets risking life and limb just to have some extremely remote chance of harming a Jewish person for no reason. This is clearly absurd. A little clear thinking and empathy goes a long way.

4. Trump could have prevented all this violence by doing what previous administrations had done and keeping the US embassy in Tel Aviv. Experts warned that this would happen. Trump ignored them. He is ultimately responsible for the mounting pile of corpses resulting from this provocation.

5. The Trump campaign was given $25 million by billionaire oligarch Sheldon Adelson (the largest campaign donation made by anyone to any candidate), who provided a further $5 million for Trump’s inauguration. Adelson is a sociopathic pro-Israel hawk who once called on the US to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran. He was present at the opening of the Jerusalem embassy, getting what he paid for.

To continue reading: Fifteen Thoughts About Israel

The Dark Side of Israeli Independence, by Brett Wilkins

Nobody asked the Palestinians if they wanted to make room for a Zionist state. From Brett Wilkins at antiwar.com:

On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence. Each May 15, Palestinians solemnly commemorate Nakba Day. Nakba means catastrophe, and that’s precisely what Israel’s independence has been for the more than 700,000 Arabs and their five million refugee descendants forced from their homes and into exile, often by horrific violence, to make way for the Jewish state.

Land Without a People?

In the late 19th century, Zionism emerged as a movement for the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. Although Jews ruled over kingdoms there more than 2,000 years ago, they never numbered more than around 10 percent of the population from antiquity through the early 1900s. A key premise of Zionism is what literary theorist Edward Said called the “excluded presence” of Palestine’s indigenous population; a central myth of early Zionists was that Palestine was a “land without a people for a people without a land.”

At its core, Zionism is a settler-colonial movement of white, European usurpers supplanting Arabs they often viewed as inferior or backwards. Theodore Herzl, father of modern political Zionism, envisioned a Jewish state in Palestine as “an outpost of civilization opposed to barbarism.” Other early Zionists warned against this sort of thinking. The great Hebrew essayist Ahad Ha’am wrote:

We… are accustomed to believing that Arabs are all wild desert people who, like donkeys, neither see nor understand what is happening around them. But this is a grave mistake. The Arabs… see and understand what we are doing and what we wish to do on the land. If the time comes that [we] develop to a point where we are taking their place… the natives are not going to just step aside so easily.

Jewish migration to Palestine increased significantly amid the pogroms and often rabid anti-Semitism afflicting much of Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. As control of Palestine passed from the defeated Ottoman Turks to Britain toward the end of World War I, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declared “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Israelis and their supporters often cite the Balfour Declaration when defending Israel’s legitimacy. What they never mention is that it goes on to state that”nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

To continue reading: The Dark Side of Israeli Independence

America’s Unsustainable Empire, by Patrick J. Buchanan

Will America be the next in a long line of empires that have gone broke? From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

Before President Trump trashes the Iran nuclear deal, he might consider: If he could negotiate an identical deal with Kim Jong Un, it would astonish the world and win him the Nobel Peace Prize.

For Iran has no nuclear bomb or ICBM and has never tested either. It has never enriched uranium to bomb grade. It has shipped 98 percent of its uranium out of the country. It has cameras inside and inspectors crawling all over its nuclear facilities.

And North Korea? It has atom bombs and has tested an H-bomb. It has intermediate-range ballistic missiles that can hit Guam and an ICBM that, fully operational, could hit the West Coast. It has shorter-range missiles that could put nukes on South Korea and Japan.

Hard to believe Kim Jong Un will surrender these weapons, his ticket of admission to the table of great powers.

Yet the White House position is that the Iran nuclear deal should be scrapped, and no deal with Kim Jong Un signed that does not result in the “denuclearization” of the peninsula.

If denuclearization means Kim gives up all his nukes and strategic missiles, ceases testing, and allows inspectors into all his nuclear facilities, we may be waiting a long time.

Trump decides on the Iran deal by May 12. And we will likely know what Kim is prepared to do, and not prepared to do, equally soon.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron is in D.C. to persuade Trump not to walk away from the Iran deal and to keep U.S. troops in Syria. Chancellor Angela Merkel will be arriving at week’s end with a similar message.

On the White House front burner then are these options:

Will North Korea agree to surrender its nuclear arsenal, or is it back to confrontation and possible war?

Will we stick with the nuclear deal with Iran, or walk away, issue new demands on Tehran, and prepare for a military clash if rebuffed?

Do we pull U.S. troops out of Syria as Trump promised, or keep U.S. troops there to resist the reconquest of his country by Bashar Assad and his Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Shiite allies?

Beyond, the larger question looms: How long can we keep this up?

To continue reading: America’s Unsustainable Empire

America First—R.I.P. by David Stockman

A defense of the US proper would require a small fraction of what the US actually spends on its military. From David Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

When the Cold War officially ended in 1991, Washington could have pivoted back to the pre-1914 status quo ante. That is, to a national security policy of America First because there was literally no significant military threat left on the planet.

Post-Soviet Russia was an economic basket case that couldn’t even meet its military payroll and was melting down and selling the Red Army’s tanks and artillery for scrap. China was just emerging from the Great Helmsman’s economic, political and cultural depredations and had embraced Deng Xiaoping proclamation that “to get rich is glorious”.

The implications of the Red Army’s fiscal demise and China’s electing the path of export mercantilism and Red Capitalism were profound.

Russia couldn’t invade the American homeland in a million years and China chose the route of flooding America with shoes, sheets, shirts, toys and electronics. So doing, it made the rule of the communist elites in Beijing dependent upon keeping the custom of 4,000 Wal-Marts in America, not bombing them out of existence.

In a word, god’s original gift to America—the great moats of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans—had again become the essence of its national security.

After 1991, therefore, there was no nation on the planet that had the remotest capability to mount a conventional military assault on the U.S. homeland; or that would not have bankrupted itself attempting to create the requisite air and sea-based power projection capabilities—a resource drain that would be vastly larger than even the $700 billion the US currently spends on its global armada.

Indeed, in the post-cold war world the only thing the US needed was a modest conventional capacity to defend the shorelines and airspace against any possible rogue assault and a reliable nuclear deterrent against any state foolish enough to attempt nuclear blackmail.

Needless to say, those capacities had already been bought and paid for during the cold war. The triad of  minutemen ICBMs, Trident SLBMs (submarines launched nuclear missiles) and long-range stealth bombers cost only a few ten billions annually for operations and maintenance and were more than adequate for the task of deterrence.

Likewise, conventional defense of the U.S. shoreline and airspace against rogues would not require a fraction of today’s 1.3 million active uniformed force—to say nothing of the 800,000 additional reserves and national guard forces and  the 765,000 DOD civilians on top of that. Rather than funding 2.9 million personnel, the whole job of national security under a homeland-based America First concept could be done with less than 500,000 military and civilian payrollers.

To continue reading: America First—R.I.P.